Remembering Dr. Helen LigonAug. 22, 2003
Dr. Helen Hailey Ligon, 82, lifelong resident of Lott, and Emeritus Professor of Information Systems, Hankamer School of Business, Baylor University, passed away Friday morning, August 22, 2003, in a Waco hospital.
"Helen was always enthusiastic. She had a bubbling personality," said Dr. G.W. Willis, chair of the Information Systems Department. "Helen and I went through the PhD program at Texas A&M together," he remembered. "She would sit in the classes during the day and take notes using shorthand, then at night she would type them out. The next day, she would hand them out to all of us students. She got quite a few of us through that PhD program at A&M."
Dr. Ligon was born February 7, 1921, in Lott to Bobbye Ruble Hailey and R. W. Hailey, Sr, who was a longtime Falls County Judge. She graduated from Lott High School in 1937, and married William Grady Ligon, Jr., in 1941.
A 1942 graduate of Texas Woman's University in Denton, she completed her M.A. degree from TWU in 1945 and her Ph.D. in Information Systems from Texas A&M University in 1976.
Dr. Ligon joined the Baylor University faculty in 1958, serving as an assistant professor 1958 - 1960, associate professor 1961 - 1975, and a full professor from 1976 to present. She was still scheduled to teach a graduate class this fall.
Dr. Ligon was named Emeritus Professor in 1997, and during the Fall 1998 Commencement, she received a special Tribute for Meritorious Service from President Robert B. Sloan, Jr.
She distinguished herself by being an individual of firsts. As the first person in computing at Baylor University and among the first in the state, Dr. Ligon made many unique contributions to the field of information systems. In 1962, Carl and Thelma Casey gave the Hankamer School of Business an IBM 1620 computer, and Dr. Ligon was chosen to learn how to run the computer and then teach students in the computer field.
Then computers were relatively new and very few universities had computers or taught computer courses. Under her guidance, student workers wrote and ran programs using keypunch cards. Soon thereafter, she began her study towards a PhD at Texas A&M, commuting to College Station while still teaching a full load at Baylor.
When she received her PhD, she was one of the three first recipients of such a degree from Texas A&M. After graduating, Dr. Ligon developed the first Management Information Systems courses at Baylor, and later helped transition these into the present Information Systems Department.
All through the 45 years she has been at Baylor, Dr. Ligon consistently maintained very high student evaluations, and was named Most Popular Business Professor an unprecedented six times. She constantly worked with large corporations to help students find summer internships and jobs after graduation.
Dr. Ligon pioneered partnerships with the consulting divisions of the large accounting firms allowing her classes to be team taught with experienced professional consultants. She presented at many national conferences, and published in many major journals. Her dissertation was published in book form and was required reading many years for graduate students nationwide.
In 1991, Dr. Ligon was awarded the prestigious Herbert H. Reynolds Award which recognizes outstanding dedication and service to Baylor University.
Although officially retired in 1993, she refused to attend the ceremony or take her retirement award and continued to teach a "lighter load" of classes. In 1992, the Helen H. Ligon Professorship in Information Systems was established. At business school alumni gatherings, Dr. Ligon's name is always the first one mentioned by grateful graduates.
An avid Baylor sports fan, she attended as many home games as possible and proudly cheered her Bears onward.
Dr. Ligon served as past president of Delta Kappa Gamma honorary teacher's organization. She received the Pathfinder Award from the Waco YWCA in 1983.
She has been active in both the First Presbyterian Church of Lott and the Clover Hill Cemetery Society of Lott.
She was preceded in death by her parents and by her husband in 1983.
Dr. Ligon is survived by her son, Grady Ligon III and his wife, Diane, of Austin; three grandsons, Grady Ligon IV and his wife Dawn of Houston, Gregg Ligon and his wife Rachel of Wichita Falls, and Grant Ligon of New York City; nephew, Chester Springfield of Lott, and two great-grandchildren, Tanner and Libbie Ligon of Wichita Falls.
Her family is pure green and gold. Her uncle, Bob Hailey, was a member of the Immortal Ten. She was instrumental in seeing that her son and grandsons all graduated from Baylor, as did her daughter-in-law, Diane. Dr. Ligon was very proud that in 1997 she and her family were recognized as Baylor's Family of the Year during the Homecoming game that year.
In the first history of Hankamer School of Business published in 1990, it was written that "Enthusiasm should be Helen Ligon's middle name. After teaching at Baylor all these years, students still clamor to enroll in her classes. Why? Because of her enthusiasm for life and her commitment to staying abreast of the latest developments in information technology. Those of us whose lives are touched by Helen Ligon both love and respect her and feel richly blessed to have the privilege of knowing her."
Memorials may be made to the Helen H. Ligon Professorship in Information Systems, PO Box 8005, Waco, TX 76798.